The MLS Student Handbook

MLS Program of Study

Your Program of Study lists the courses you will take, the members of your MLS faculty committee, and other pertinent information. Your faculty advisor will complete a Program of Study form that will be submitted to the MLS Program Director for approval, then to the Dean of the Graduate School for approval. A Program of Study should be developed soon after you have taken nine hours in the program.

The MLS degree is a 31-hour program consisting of a ten-hour core, an 18-hour concentration, a three-hour culminating experience, and comprehensive exams. Each of these is briefly explained below.

The Ten-hour Core

The ten-hour core consists of the following courses:
IDS 801 Introduction to Graduate Liberal Studies (1 hr)
IDS 802 Ways of Knowing in Comparative Perspective (3 hrs)
IDS 803 Emerging Knowledge Society Origins and Implications (3 hrs)
IDS 804 Information Literacy (3 hrs)

The ten-hour core is one of the distinctive features of the MLS program and is meant to serve as the intellectual and skill foundation for the MLS degree. IDS 804 meets the research requirement for a graduate degree. As a general rule, the MLS Program Director will not approve substitutes for courses in the core. Ideally, each concentration would, in its courses, continually refer back to the foundation. You are therefore strongly encouraged to take the core before taking any classes in the 18-hour concentration. One important rule is that you will not be allowed to take more than 19 hours of credit if you have not yet completed the ten-hour core.

Make sure to keep notes from your four core courses. They should be used to help you prepare for your comprehensive examinations. You should also keep the books that you used in IDS 804: use them as reference books as you work on other course assignments and your culminating experience.

If you are completing a second MLS degree, you would not need to repeat the MLS core. Instead, you would work with your faculty advisor to select other courses deemed appropriate. If you are pursuing a second MLS degree, you must complete all other parts of the program: 31 hours of approved courses (including a culminating experience), an MLS faculty committee, and comprehensive exams.

The 18-hour Concentration

The key is to make sure that your curriculum is a coherent whole. Please work with your advisor early in your program (as soon after the first nine hours as possible) to select courses for the concentration and to put together your Program of Study. Your advisor will complete a Program of Study form that will be submitted to the MLS Program Director for approval, then to the Dean of the Graduate School for approval.

You may request that credits taken at other universities be transferred in to the MLS program. While up to 15 hours can be transferred, it is preferred that not more than nine to twelve hours be transferred. Separate concentrations in the MLS program may have different standards regarding the number of credit hours they will accept. There are two reasons for this: first, writing comprehensive exams may otherwise be difficult; and second, an MLS degree with 15 hours of transfer credit means that the degree is much of a FHSU degree. Only a course meeting all of the following criteria can be transferred:

  1. must be offered for graduate credit
  2. must be offered by an accredited school
  3. must be for a grade (no "pass-no pass" or "satisfactory-unsatisfactory" courses)
  4. must have a grade of "C" or better
  5. if included in your Program of Study, no more than six years can elapse between the time that course was completed and the time that you graduate with an MLS degree
  6. if the course is not part of another degree program. For example, you cannot use a course taken as part of another Master's program.

Even if a course meets all of these criteria, your advisor determines whether to accept courses into your Program of Study. For example, your advisor may not accept a course with a grade lower than a "B."

The Culminating Experience

The requirement to complete a culminating experience can be met by an internship, a project, or a thesis. The MLS faculty committee should evaluate the culminating experience and voice its approval before a grade for the culminating experience is reported. You should expect to take more than one semester to finish the culminating experience. A brief discussion of each option follows.

INTERNSHIP. You and your advisor select an appropriate organization in which you can serve as an intern. Your faculty advisor would serve as your mentor while you serve as an intern. Your advisor, perhaps along with your MLS faculty committee, would determine the requirements that you should meet to earn a grade for the internship. More information about internships can be found on the MLS Internship web page.

PROJECT. A project has an intuitive sensibility to students in the arts - for example, an exhibition for an art student, or performance of a composition for a student in music. A project may be appropriate for you as well. You may agree to write a research paper and then develop a series of presentations, or a series of web pages, for example. A project should not be a 'thesis-lite': any easier to do than a thesis. More information about projects can be found on the MLS Project web page.

THESIS. You would conduct both secondary and primary (original) research and write up the results. The Graduate School has requirements that a thesis must meet; please check out those requirements before you get started on the thesis. It is especially important to work closely with your faculty advisor and MLS faculty committee if you write a thesis.  You should also familiarize yourself with Thesis Guidelines - Guidelines for Thesis and Field Study. If your proposed research will involve human subjects, please see Research Involving Human Subjects. If your proposed research will involve animal subjects, please see Research Involving Animal Subjects. If possible, you should orally defend your thesis (this can be done through a conference call). For more information about the thesis, see the MLS Thesis webpage and the "Writing and Style Guide" by Dr. Chris Crawford.

The Comprehensive Exams

If your culminating experience is a thesis, then you must pass one, four-hour comprehensive exam. If your culminating experience is either a project or an internship, then you must pass two, four-hour comprehensive exams. The comprehensive exams are, collectively, an opportunity for you to demonstrate mastery of your subject. The comprehensive exams should be more than a test on the courses taken. These exams afford you an opportunity to demonstrate familiarity with the relevant literature covered both in and outside of your coursework, and an opportunity to provide a nuanced, complex, and critical and analytical response to the questions at hand.

Make sure that you and your faculty advisor know no later than the semester before which semester that you will take your comprehensive exams. Sign up early for your comprehensive exams. Contact the Graduate School
785 628-4236 to sign up for your comprehensive examinations. The Graduate School has a website that provides links to deadline dates.

Once you have passed the comprehensive exams, your faculty advisor should prepare a Ballot reports the results. Each member of the MLS faculty committee should sign the form and each should mark whether you have satisfactorily or unsatisfactorily passed the exam. In the MLS program, the Director is considered the "Chair," so the Ballot should be submitted to the MLS Program Director for a signature prior to being sent to the Graduate School.

The Graduate School requires that graduate students pass one or more comprehensive examinations. The MLS program is not excluded from this, as is clearly stated in the FHSU catalog:

"Each applicant for a graduate degree must satisfactorily pass a comprehensive examination over the subject fields of the program. The comprehensive examination is not merely a reexamination of materials covered in coursework but is a test of the graduate degree candidate's ability to integrate materials from the graduate major and any related or supporting field. If a student writes a thesis, the student will sit for a total of four hours of comprehensive examinations; if a student does not write a thesis, the student will sit for a total of eight hours of comprehensive examinations. Each department will determine the content of the comprehensive examinations; the examination may be written and/or oral." (FHSU Catalog, p. 82).

Individual departments make decisions as to the form and content of the comprehensive exams. The comprehensive exams provide an opportunity for your committee to evaluate your learning. The defense period (of the Internship or Thesis) may also allow you to demonstrate your learning over the course of your graduate career, but the primary place for that to occur is when you complete the comprehensive exams. Please contact your graduate advisor for more information on the comprehensive examination process.

GPA Requirement

You must meet the following GPA requirements in order to graduate with an MLS degree:

  1. Your Program of Study must have a GPA of at least a 3.0
  2. Each semester you take at least one course, your GPA that semester should beat least 3.0 - otherwise you may receive a note from the Graduate School reminding you of the requirement to have a GPA of 3.0

Admission to Candidacy Guidelines

Link to MLS Forms

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